Opening a major conference on Somalia, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today urged the international community to support security efforts in the country battling Al-Shabaab and aid the more than six million Somalis affected by the violence and a deadly drought.

“We are here to listen to Somalia’s leadership – and to agree on a framework for cooperation,” Secretary-General António Guterres told the heads of State and Government from across East Africa and other key partners at the London Somalia Conference 2017.

Mr. Guterres noted that Somalia is at a moment which is both “tragic and hopeful” and “can be in the near future the kind of good news that we badly need” in the world.

A legitimate Federal Government was established in 2012 in Somalia, and Al-Shabaab was pushed out of several key cities by the UN Security Council-mandated African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).

Fighting continues to devastate the country, however, with violations of human rights and international humanitarian law occurring with impunity, Mr. Guterres noted.

He highlighted the need for predictable funding for AMISOM, and suggested the possibility of assessed contributions. The AU force was created 2012 and began fighting before it had helicopters, night vision systems or armoured vehicles.